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Too Many Dogs?

Five of my adopted pups, from left to right. Ivy, Bounce (now deceased), Buster, Cody, Ty

A few years ago, I was walking through Murray Park with the five dogs I had at the time. All of them were focused on a tree with a little squirrel scurrying around it. The four little dogs were sitting, watching intently, and my big dog Cody was jumping as high as he could hoping that somehow he would take flight and get a hold of that little critter. It was a cute sight. Most people would walk by us, give a little laugh, and move on.

Cody, always hopeful that he can catch a squirrel!

As one older woman came shuffling by, she looked at my pack of squirrel hunters, asked if they were all mine, and informed me that I had too many dogs, and that Murray city only allowed two. She was wrong, and I told her Murray city's pet laws had changed and I could have as many as I wanted. To that she replied, "Well, I'm glad I'm not your neighbor!" And my response was, "Me too!"

Now, I have a sixth dog, unexpectedly, but she is part of the family and I love her. My two fifteen year old toy poodles are likely seeing their final year, unfortunately, but that's a reality I have to be okay with if I'm going to continue to rescue dogs. Rescue is how I ended up with six dogs in the first place. They all came from a shelter or rescue group at one point and somehow found their way to me. I feel extremely grateful that I have the ability to provide for them because that wasn't always the case.

(above) Buster, Cody and my newest dog, Banana, (right) Prince

When I fostered my first dog almost thirteen years ago, I was living in someone else's home who was kind enough to let me take in a little toy poodle named Prince. After a few months, I couldn't give him up, so I adopted him, but I still had a strong desire to help more dogs. It took a few years before I could get into my own home where I could take in whatever animals I wanted without worrying about bothering roommates or damaging anyone else's property. During those years, my heart ached for my own space. I continued to volunteer at the shelter and foster thanks to a wonderful landlord who allowed it, but I still felt limited by roommates, neighbors, and animal limitation laws.

I was so happy when I finally bought my own home and could live by myself with the 7 dogs I had accumulated by that time and a foster kitten who became a permanent resident. Now, I have six dogs and a cat, and when I tell people that, I get very mixed reactions. Crazy dog lovers wish they could have that many dogs, if they only had the space for it. Normal dog lovers who don't desire that many dogs wonder how I manage that many critters. And sometimes, people like that old lady at the park shame me for having too many dogs because that's too many for them and therefore, too many for everybody!

During a training session learning to sit on a mat. (clockwise from bottom left) Bounce, Cody, Prince, Ivy, Buster, Ty

What do I think about having this many dogs? I LOVE IT! That's not to say it isn't hard and it certainly isn't for everybody. They are expensive, messy, time consuming, needy, and disgusting creatures. One of them wears diapers that need changed every few hours. Some mornings I am late getting out of the house because I'm cleaning up vomit, pee, poop, or tending to a wound. They are annoyingly loud when they hear a noise outside; they get into occasional fights with each other, they have to be separated at feeding, they need daily exercise and training, and I hate going overnight without them because I really miss them!

They follow me everywhere around the house, are unconditional in their love, are always excited to see me even if I'm only gone for two minutes, and make me laugh every day. I love knowing that I am providing a good life for my sweet dogs and cat and that I have the resources to do so. And I still have an urge to take in more! Unfortunately, I have reached my limit at my current home, but I am determined in the next few years to find a few acres with a bigger house where I can accommodate more animals including pigs and cows and whatever creatures that comes into my life.

I know that most people are not cut out to have this many pets at one time, and that's okay. Anyone who has even one dog or cat or parrot or guinea pig who is providing the best possible life for that one animal is contributing to the animal welfare cause, and that is commendable! Quality is definitely more important than quantity when it comes to caring for animals. They deserve to have good quality lives with an abundance of love and attention. Whether you have one pet or six, if you do your best to make sure they are loved and happy, you are doing your part.

Prince and my cat Taz enjoying a snuggle.

That said, there are so many sweet pets waiting for their forever homes, so if you do have the capacity to add even one more to your family, please consider it, and check with your local rescues or shelters first. They can guide you to finding the perfect pet that will fit in with your lifestyle and needs. If you're not in a position to add another pet to your home but you still want to help homeless pets, there are other ways to do so by volunteering or donating to a local shelter or rescue. There are so many in our area who could use your support!

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